Jean-Charles Samuelian
Co-founder & CEO @ alan
24 mai 2017Startup

Who we are and how we are building our culture

At Alan, we have a set of cultural values that we believe help us deliver the best product to our users, improve healthcare experience and be fast and effective. Those values have direct implications in the way we build our platform. They translate into our approach to work and our methods.

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Do you like our outfits? 😉

We believe that culture is meant to evolve with the company, and that defining it early on helps making conscious decisions as a team on an otherwise very “unconscious” process. Building our culture is a continuous task that defines who we are, how we work together and how we hire. It is not something that should be done once every 2 years in a team outing (we heard that a lot).

1. We solve big problems, quickly, with focus.

🕊 Responsibility & freedom.

We think we have a team of amazing individuals. That’s why we give them the freedom to take actions and they ought to be responsible for them.

Responsibility & freedom are very effective while combined with great communication.

Being responsible implies going beyond symptoms to identify the root causes, avoid useless meetings and decision process (we will get back on that).

🏃 Move Fast.

We are a start-up, we take decision quickly with the right level of information. We have a process for that, we’ll share it in the future.

Once a decision is made, we execute on it as fast as possible. Problems will always arise, be ready and open to that.

💫 Nothing is too big.

That is really important for us. We like to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Nothing is sacred, everything is in a state of change. Especially in our industry. We believe every problem can be solved, if broken into manageable pieces.

It implies having a great understanding of the rules of our industry, and thus being able to think beyond the current practices.

🤗 We’re not only building an insurance but great products for our users.

We always put ourselves in the shoes of our users in order to deliver the best experience to them. We are a pro-user insurance, we want to help people who chose Alan’s ecosystem.

That is why we listen to our users a lot. Their feedbacks are really important to us, and we need them to improve.

All our choices are driven by this: we protect users’ data, we help users mutualise their risk, we help users to take the right decisions, we deliver a beautiful and easy-to-use product.

2. We tell and share everything.

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We mostly use Slack and Github (instead of post-its) 😅

👓 Transparency.

We are committed to total transparency about everything: successes, problems, salaries, revenues, numbers…

We are one team with one goal, and we need to communicate on our difficulties if we want to make Alan successful.

We have built a lot of tools in order to be transparent: weekly updates to the team, full access to the information, roadmap openly shared…

📣 Communication.

We spend time on learning how to listen better instead of hammering arguments, so we can better understand each other. We value controversial opinions.

We have spent a long time assessing how to better communicate. We have tried many things (shorter meetings, how to define a meeting agenda, no-meeting day…) and we ended with a written communication policy to minimize the need for meetings. A full blog post will be dedicated to it.

👍 Feedback.

Continuous feedback is super-important at Alan.

Everyone in the team is required to be open and transparent, talk openly about what one cares about and the problems one is dealing with. We use 1-on-1s a lot, approximately every week or so.

👊 “No ego” doer.

We don’t pride ourselves on personal ideas. Ideas are for the company, and they are detached from the people who created or contributed to them. Putting our egos aside really helps us to take productive and ambitious decisions.

3. We grow as individuals while we are developing the company

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We could climb a volcano together. Oh wait… We did it already! 🌋

🏋 Self-improvement.

We invite the team to be conscious of their current level of productivity and happiness, and to continually make changes to grow. Self-improvement cannot be dissociated from feedback, as you need to ask the others how you can improve, and request resources and training in order to achieve this goal. Hence, unlimited books and a conference budget.

🎯 Live smarter, not harder.

We don’t believe in quantity. We believe in quality and objectives. We only do care about accomplishing great work. So we want people to spend the right time at work to be effective and innovative.

It implies being flexible on working hours and work-from-home, letting people take holidays when they think they need them, and having everybody be transparent and open about it.

🍇 Be healthy and happy.

Obvious for a health insurance, but quite challenging for a fast growing company :). We take time for ourselves and we encourage our teammates to do the same.

🥇 Be a leader in your field.

Our team is composed of amazing people, and we love it. We want to empower each of them to be a leader in his field. We truly believe that we need to contribute to the global community to provide better tools and ideas.

If you have any comment or idea on our values, we are happy to discuss them!

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